Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

My Sweet and Sour Chicken has tons of flavour but this recipe is a milder, healthier version the whole family will love.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This version of Sweet and Sour Chicken has all the flavour and spice of the original. What it doesn’t have is the day-glo colour and the artificial taste. Although I wouldn’t classify anything with half a cup of jam in it as ‘healthy’, with less sugar than is in many of the prepared sauces you will find in the supermarket and some restaurants, it’s definitely ‘healthier’.

I first blogged My Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe five years ago, and with Chinese New Year approaching I wanted to give it another moment in the sun.  I remember standing on the seventh floor of Macy’s in San Francisco a few years ago on Chinese New Year. My nose was practically pressed to the window, as I watched the amazing parade below. I’d never seen or heard anything like it in real life before. I’m not really into horoscopes of any kind, but I am into anything that celebrates joy, good fortune and happiness. Chinese New Year is definitely that.

Sweet and Sour Chicken has always been one of my family’s favourite Chinese dishes, but I personally was always less enthusiastic because I found the flavour was often way too intense. I was also worried about the nearly fluorescent colour of many of the prepared sweet and sour sauces and the long, unpronounceable ingredients list on the jars. So I decided to do some research and develop a recipe of my own. I’ve been making My Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe ever since.

What’s so different about My Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe?

Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken, an easy to make, wholesome version of this timeless classic.

Baked Instead of Stir Fried

It may seem strange to bake the chicken instead of stir frying it but I honestly think it keeps the chicken more moist. It’s just so easy to overcook thin strips of poultry and I can’t stand over-cooked chicken. Also the whole breasts of chicken take up the flavour of the seasoned flour coating more thoroughly. This leads to a better tasting dish. The veggies are still stir fried for lots of fresh flavour and crispness.

Easy to source, flavourful spices

Most of the ingredients in my Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe are things you probably have on hand already.

Never used root ginger before? You can peel root ginger immediately after you buy it and pop it in the freezer, and then use it straight from frozen. You can use about half a teaspoon of the dried ginger you use in baking as a substitute but I think it is worth buying fresh ginger for the wonderful flavour it gives.

Sweet and Sour Chicken is Quick and Easy

Of course, you don’t have to wait for Chinese New Year to make this easy make your own take out recipe! My Sweet and Sour Chicken only takes thirty to forty minutes to pull together and the flavour is worth it. Special enough to serve to company but equally great for an easy family dinner, once you taste My Sweet and Sour Chicken, I doubt you’ll ever buy a jar of ready-made sweet and sour sauce again!

Printable Recipe

5.0 from 8 reviews
Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe
Serves: Serves 4 to 6
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 4 chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil or other vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup apricot or peach jam or preserves
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby corn
  • 1 cup snow peas (mange tout)
  • ½ cup scallions (spring onions), thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cashews
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C or 180°C for fan ovens).
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with a couple teaspoons of the oil.
  3. Mix the flour, paprika and pepper together in a large bowl or ziplock bag.
  4. Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture, shake them off and place on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake (without turning) for 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken breasts are thoroughly cook through and no pink remains inside. (I use a meat thermometer to be sure the chicken is cooked to at least 165°F as per safety guidelines.)
  6. Meanwhile, about 15 minutes before the chicken is done, cook the rice in boiling, salted water according to package directions. When the rice is cooked, drain it and keep it warm.
  7. Also while the chicken is cooking, mix together the jam, cider vinegar, soy sauce and ginger to make the sweet and sour sauce. Set aside.
  8. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium to high heat.
  9. Stir fry the carrots, peppers and baby corn for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender crisp.
  10. When the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and carefully cut it into thin slices. Be careful, the chicken will be very hot.
  11. Cover the chicken and keep it warm.
  12. Add the snow peas and scallions to the vegetable mixture in the frying pan or wok together with the sweet and sour sauce you made earlier.
  13. Stir fry for a minute or two.
  14. Add the cooked chicken and cashews, stir to coat with the sweet and sour sauce and warm through.
  15. Serve the Sweet and Sour Chicken on a bed of rice.

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Article by April Harris

April has written 1291 great articles for us.
April is a writer, recipe developer, frequent traveller and blogger sharing travel, food, and style. Based in the south of England, April is a British Canadian who is passionate about family, hearth and home, healthy living (with treats!) and the transformative power of travel.
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  1. This is one of my favorite Chinese dishes and this looks so good. Great recipe.

  2. Such a great idea to freeze the ginger after peeling it. I always end up throwing my unused ginger away because it never occurred to me to freeze it. What a wonderful dish. Like you, I try to minimize how much I eat sweet & sour foods. . .but since you reduced the sugar a bit and didn’t fry the protein. . .I can feel a little less guilty.

  3. I would never have thought about using peach jam for sweet and soure chicken but it makes sense! BTW I agree on baking instead of stir frying. I only grill it instead haha (also makes it easier on the grid :p)
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love sweet and sour– and it is packed with “day glo” ingredients! Haha. Love that you use peach jam– sounds wonderful.

  5. This is one of my family’s favorites too. I love that it’s healthier!

  6. How delicious, and I’m all for healthy! My family loves this type of meal!

  7. We make a lot of Asian flavored dinners here, but I’ve never tried Sweet & Sour at home. I love that you used jam as the sweet in this. It looks delicious, and I think my family will love it! Thanks for the recipe.

  8. Growing up, I loved sweet and sour chicken – had it every single time we went out for Chinese. But I haven’t eaten it in probably 20 years (yikes!). I need to change that by making your healthier version, it looks mouthwatering, April.

  9. I love the idea of making take out at home- so much healthier and often more delicious!

  10. I really like recipes that take an original and make it healthier. I just started freezing ginger and there is no waste anymore. Take out at home is such a great idea!

  11. So delicious looking and great photos!

  12. I love a sweet and sour recipes but take outs are too greasy and bad for us. This is perfect healthy yet full of flavor.

  13. April, my hubbie adores sweet ‘n sour chicken and I cringe every time he orders it when we got out as I know it’s so unhealthy! Needless to say, I was thrilled to have found your recipe. All the great flavor (probably even better!) and so much healthier than the “traditional!”

  14. We love sweet and sour chicken, April. You have really made this delicious dish a healthy one. Hope you are enjoying your day and thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us at Full Plate Thursday!
    Come Back Soon
    Miz Helen

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